Decision to clamp another lockdown on Chennai rests with chief minister Palaniswami
Chennai: While greater Chennai continued to be under the coronavirus siege, reporting 1,406 fresh COVID-19 positive cases on Thursday, the total number of persons testing positive for the virus throughout Tamil Nadu saw a fractional drop for the first time in 12 days at 1,875, lower than Wednesday's mercurial high of 1,927 per day positive cases.
The total number of persons who have tested positive in Tamil Nadu till date has further went up to 38,716, even as 23 more deaths pushed the state's toll due to coronavirus to 349.
Chennai and the three northern districts of Chengalpattu, Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram continue to witness sharp spikes on a daily basis. In North Chennai, Royapuram division now accounts for a total of 4,207 persons affected by COVID-19, out of the city's total cases of 27,398. Chengalpattu reported 127 positive cases on Thursday, followed by Thiruvallur-72, Kancheepuram and Madurai 19 each and Cuddalore-18.
As regards greater Chennai, fisheries minister D. Jayakumar after an inspection of the COVID-19 measures in Royapuram zone, said despite it being a problem area, the number of active cases in Royapuram was only 1,879.
Asked whether the government was contemplating another phase of 'full lockdown' for Chennai and its neighbouring districts, Jayakumar said chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami would take a call on the issue after consultations with the medical experts. "The government cannot take a unilateral decision on this," he said, adding, whether such a decision was needed was squarely "in the hands of the people", implying their level of cooperation to the government's measures will be crucial.
With the Centre announcing the Unlock.1 phase since June 1, a fresh spurt in COVID-19 positive cases was expected, particularly with Tamil Nadu opening up public transport in six other zones in the State in a limited way and the Southern Railways also beginning to run trains in those zones. Intra-district mobility within a zone carries some risk of more numbers, but sources add the crucial thing is to ensure the additional cases are within a threshold. Hence, the State's focus is also on ramping up medical facilities. District collectors are also complaining to their bosses at Fort St.George that people from Chennai freely drive in on two-wheelers into their territories, which escape screening.
Hunting for more beds, medical/testing kits and isolation facilities for suspected Covid-19 patients, the Health Minister Dr C Vijayabaskar, who inspected the ESI hospital in Coimbatore on Thursday, a designated Covid-19 treatment facility in the western belt, said the hospital will be upgraded into a 800-bed facility from its current 400-bed capacity. The ESI hospital in Coimbatore was doing a "good job" as 280 Covid-19 patients treated there have recovered and have been discharged, he added. Meanwhile, one lakh PCR test kits reached Chennai from South Korea.